Our Melbourne Beach Blog

Treasure Hunting at the Beach near our Romantic Florida Getaway

“WHEN I had done breakfasting the squire gave me a note addressed to John Silver, at the sign of the Spy-glass, and told me I should easily find the place by following the line of the docks and keeping a bright lookout for a little tavern with a large brass telescope for sign. I set off, overjoyed at this opportunity…”   Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson 

Romantic Florida GetawayEvery morning last week at 8 am sharp, Jenn and Jeff, two of our favorite return guests, would arrive in the dining room looking healthy and happy, smelling like suntan lotion and ready to start their day. After eating a hearty breakfast and swapping stories with us here in the kitchen at our romantic Florida getaway, off they would go with a treasure hunting plan heading south along the beach with a twinkle in their eye, a cooler full of drinks from our snack room, two good hats, a book for Jenn, and Jeff’s trusty metal detector.

1715 Spanish FleetIn 1715, a fleet of Spanish Galleons traveled north along the east coast of Florida for Spain. Not one of the ships made it, but instead sunk off the coast right here between Cape Canaveral and Vero Beach and Florida beachgoers have been finding treasures washed up along our sandy stretch ever since.

For those not as adventurous as Jeff and Jenn, McClarty Treasure Museum is located on the National Historical Landmark Site of the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet Survivors’ & Salvaging Camp just a little south of Sebastian Inlet State Park on A1A, and is a great place to see some of the Spanish treasure found along the beaches. They have all kinds of coins, jewelry, tools, pottery, religious artifacts and it’s just a fun place to spend an interesting afternoon.

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No Doilies Here…

“Bed and breakfasts have faced more typecasting than Adam West, and for good reason,” says Steve Garbarino in The Wall Street Journal. “For every rave scribbled in a needlepoint guest book, there are just as many horror stories about a weekend in a Victorian ‘gem’ or ‘rustic’ farmhouse crammed with dried flowers and figurines, presided over by an omnipresent, rule-obsessed caretaker.”

One my favorite things about being an innkeeper at our Melbourne Beach B&B is that almost every single day we have a good belly laugh with a guest who shares their good humor and funny story with us either at breakfast or wine hour, or as they pass through to get a cookie on the way to the beach.

But it’s not just the guests who are funny. This week in Little Rock, Arkansas innkeepers from around the nation are attending the annual PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers) conference. These busy and creative folks are attending educational classes, sharing innovative tips for pampering guests, brainstorming new and creative ideas for breaking through that “Old Ladies and Doilies” stereotype and getting the good word out through the Better Way to Stay campaign.

Romantic Florida Getaway
















Even though the main house at Port d’Hiver was built in 1916, we are proud to say the living room at our romantic Florida getaway is 100% Doily free!

Check out the Better Way to Stay’s latest video “Death to Doilies” for a little taste of quirky innkeeper humor.

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What’s in a name?

That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.” –Juliet

Romantic Getaway in Florida

The Havana Room: When I was a kid my grandfather John always had a fat brown cigar tucked in the front pocket of his shirt or in the corner of his mouth. I don’t think he ever actually lit them, at least not in front of us, because my grandmother Hilda didn’t like him to smoke. All through elementary school my little sister June and I used his empty cigar boxes for our crayons. The boxes were yellow and had a beautiful exotic looking lady with long brown hair on the lid.

The sleigh bed in the Havana Room at our romantic Florida getaway is woven from thin brown papers in various shades from the abaca plant. We loved it as soon as we saw it.

The Havana Room is named after my grandfather, his cigars and the beautiful lady on the top of our crayon boxes.

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Holiday Rum Cake Recipe

Holiday parties are in full swing, so we thought you might like one of our favorite recipes from Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast to sweeten up your loved ones this holiday season!

Cocoa Beach Bed and Breakfast

Rum Cakes                                                                 

1 cup finely chopped pecans                             1 box yellow cake mix

1 box French Vanilla instant pudding                 4 eggs

½ cups water                                                     ½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup spiced rum


¼ cup water                                                      ½ cup butter

1 cup sugar                                                       ½ cup spiced rum

Spread chopped pecans over bottom of a greased Bundt pan, or we like to use a pretty shaped muffin tin and make individual little rum cakes. In a bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, ½ cup rum, oil and ½ cup water. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into pan, fill cups ½ full. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Let cool 30 minutes. Mix and heat glaze ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Pour over cakes covering sides until all liquid is absorbed. Red sprinkles add a little extra holiday sparkle.

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Catch the Holiday Spirit at Port d’Hiver!

Besides the beautiful weather, salty breezes, our bubbly spa pool and cozy fire, there are lots of fun things to do here at the beach to get you in the holiday spirit! While the staff at Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast busily strings the lights and decks the halls, here are a few cool ideas to help start your holiday season off right.

Kenney Space Center just announced their special holiday event, Holidays in Space. From November 23 – January 1, KSC will be decked out in their best holiday finery. Mrs. Claus will tell stories, they will have international holiday cookies and space carolers. This sounds like a fun and unique way to get in the holiday spirit!

Cocoa Beach Bed and Breakfast

Like to shop? Twinkling for the holidays, historic downtown Melbourne is lots more fun than the mall! With quaint boutiques, specialty stores and antiques shops, there are lots of great places to stop for lunch and glass of wine. If you go in the evening you are sure to find live music at Matt’s Casbah and Meg O’Malleys. We are keeping our ear out for this year’s official announcement, but in past years Friday nights from 5 – 9 PM downtown Melbourne was the place to be for candlelight shopping, musicians, choirs, carolers, entertainers and horse drawn carriage rides.

Want to see a classic holiday show? December 2- December 18, 2011 the historic Henegar Center has Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical. Kris Kringle will take on the cynics among us in this musical adaptation of the popular holiday favorite. In his inimitable style, Meredith Willson, the author of “The Music Man” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” tells the classic story of the year.

Best of all, the first weekend in December is Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfastour very own Christmas Parade right here on Ocean Avenue. This is small town celebrating at its best and one of our favorites! The parade begins at the river, travels toward the ocean and turns around right in front of our Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast. Lots of homemade floats, tiny kids in decorated wagons, local talent, cheerleaders, candy toss, and more. This is definitely not your Macy’s Day parade. Here in Melbourne Beach we like to keep things old school. Mayberry is more our style!

Cocoa Beach Bed and BreakfastDrive through the Space Coast Light Fest at Wickham Park from November 23 to December 31. An event to brighten the holiday spirit. A drive through holiday festival of lights including Santa and Mrs. Claus, his sleigh and reindeer, toy soldiers, elves, circus animals, holiday trees and wreaths, tunnel of lights, and much more!

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Port d’Hiver Appreciates our Troops!

Veterans Day is coming up this month and the folks here at Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast want to say thank you to all of those brave folks who serve our country. We’ve had lots of guests the last year or so who have visited with us, either just before shipping out or right after returning home, and we are always humbled to hear their devotion and grateful that they chose to spend time with us. As a token of our appreciation, for 4 weeks beginning Sunday October 23, 2011, we’re giving away one complimentary night per week to a vet who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and one guest.

So far it’s going great! On week one, we were honored to have a visit from our first fun couple, Hugh and Lauren who stayed in the Windward Suite. The Windward Suite is one of our most romantic rooms with red walls and that big canopy bed. This weekend we have the classically beachy Indian River Room all ready for our second couple, Kevin and Sharon with plenty of activities for them to enjoy if they like such as the Third Annual Cocoa Beach Air Show, the Goo Goo Dolls in concert at the King Center and Absolute Blue live at Sand on the Beach right across the street. On week three, the Creole Room will be the relaxing setting for our third couple with its extra luxurious spa tub and cool cedar ceiling and finally, it’s back to the romantic Windward Suite again on week four.

Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast

While overall the response to our “Port d’Hiver Appreciates our Troops!” giveaway has been positive, we have had several emails from Veterans who felt excluded by this year’s offer. Yesterday we received this email from John L., a 22 year Vietnam Veteran, who asked, “Have you thought of doing something similar for Vietnam War veterans?”

In response, we want to say to all Veterans that we apologize if this year’s offer made you feel excluded in any way. We deeply appreciate your sacrifice and truly appreciate your devotion and bravery. Last year our free room offer was open to any veteran regardless of where or when time was served. This year we wanted to help those folks with the most immediate need.

If you visit “Better Way To Stay” you will find a large selection of inns who offer free rooms on 11/10/2011 to vets. This is strictly a voluntary effort and B&Bs are, by definition, small properties with innkeepers who have big hearts. They don’t have hundreds of rooms to offer like the large hotels, but I think among this list you will find a welcoming and warm place to spend a relaxing getaway. Best of luck and thanks for writing.

Freedom rocks!

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Pumpkin, the Vegetable of Love?

In the article, “Pumpkin Pie: Provocative or Just Tasty” the New York Times reports that researchers from the Chicago Smell and Test Treatment and Research Foundation measured responses to 30 odors and found that the smell of pumpkin mixed with lavender created the strongest response of romantic attraction in men, followed closely by doughnuts and black licorice.

In response, our quick witted kitchen assistants here at Port d’Hiver are furiously working on a new recipe featuring homemade pumpkin doughnuts drizzled with lavender icing and topped with a sprinkling of black licorice shavings. Who knows, this potentially delicious concoction may just be the cornerstone of a new “Port d’Hiver October Romance Package”!  We’ll let you know how they turn out.

“I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” Willa Cather, My Antonia

“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.” Linus, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Melbourne Beach InnLemon Lavender Icing Recipe

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon water or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh Lavender buds to sprinkle on top of the icing
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest minced very finely or a drop of lemon extract.

Mix together all the above ingredients and decoratively drizzle over the cooled doughnuts.



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Annual Iceman’s Ball – Fall Festival

Hello, October! Melbourne Beach is the perfect place to be this time of year with surf contests, live music, local theater, great food, art festivals, Halloween parties, rocket launches and the oldest marathon in the State of Florida!

Just this week it seems that the leaves have become a little greener, the morning sun on the water extra sparkly and the sea air… well, it just smells so clean and beachy!

Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast

Then too, there‘s that special sense of October camaraderie in the air. The cheery triathletes ride by on their bikes with the sunrise behind them, as they get ready for the big Battle of the Bridges Race happening this Sunday. Neighbors are out walking their dogs and stopping to chat while the surfers are all catching those great October swells, and there seems to be an unusually large number of cute pregnant people wandering around this fall looking happy and full of life. In fact, last weekend all but one of the couples staying here at Port d’Hiver is expecting a baby this season. I’ve always thought that autumn babies were extra smart!

One of our favorite events is our very own Iceman’s Ball next weekend, Sunday, October 9th right here on Ocean Avenue. This fall festival is old-fashioned small town fun with family activities all day. Guests can take a short walk down to the river and join the festivities which begin at 9 a.m. with the Huck Finn Fishing Derby and end at 8:30 p.m. with dancing under the stars. This year promises to be extra fun with our Melbourne Beach Inn sponsoring a pedicab to ferry folks back and forth and the 4th Annual Crazy Bed Race starting at 4:00.

Melbourne Beach InnBest of all, the weather is great and you can walk from the inn and the Iceman’s Ball is free. Unless of course you are brave enough to enter that Crazy Bed Race, but we might be willing to pay to see that!

Here is a guide to the monthly average temperatures at our Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast:

MONTH       AV. HIGH       AV. LOW

January           72                  50

February         73                  51

March             77                   55

April                81                   61

May                85                    66

June               89                    71

July                 91                    72

August            90                    73

September      90                    73

October           83                   67

November       78                    60

December       73                    53

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Gluten free and delicious!

Looking for a decadent gluten free getaway? At Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast we have lots of friends whose diets require a little special finesse. Dairy sensitive? With all the great lactose free products out there, you’re easy! Vegetarian? Vegan? No big deal. But gluten free? Hmmm. How to make all of those yummy French Toasts, sweet muffins and birthday cakes turn out just as soft and delicious as ever?

Beach Front Florida B&BThe other day I read that about 6 percent of our population, or about 18 million people, have sensitivity to gluten and over the years it feels like we’ve tried that many different recipes looking for the perfect moist gluten free muffin! Sorghum flour, white rice flour, tapioca flour all work fairly well, but are inconsistent and more often than not muffins turn out crumbly, a little grainy or worse, doughy. Then one lovely afternoon in Barnes and Noble I found my new favorite book The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free by Anne Byrn.

I know, it sounds like cheating but seriously…it’s great! Brownies, muffins, cookies, bars, layer cakes, you name it and she’s got it. The idea is that instead of making your own flour base with a combination of sorghum, rice, tapioca flour, etcetera – you use gluten free cake mix from the grocery store as the base and usually a little instant pudding mix for moisture and texture then add in all kinds of other goodies to make your treat unique. For instance, “Kathy’s Cinnamon Breakfast Cake” recipe adds pecans, pure vanilla extract, eggs, cinnamon sugar and vanilla pudding mix, and makes the most delicious muffins. I used to separate the batter in half then add mashed brown bananas and chocolate chips to the rest so that we ended up with 6 cinnamon and 6 banana chocolate chip muffins for our guests (this also works great with the chocolate cake mix!) Then one day our non-gluten free teenage daughters happened by for a little “taste test” and now when I bake a batch we only end up with 6 muffins for our guests and the kids steal the rest!

But don’t worry, not all of our gluten free recipes come from Anne’s book. Here is one of our favorite gluten and lactose free French Toast recipes from our Favorite Recipes from Port d’Hiver cookbook:

sliced canned pears                                                            pinch of salt
1 cup raw cane sugar                                                         1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup water                                                                        ½ cup golden raisins
½ tsp. nutmeg                                                                     ¾ cup honey
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbl unsweetened soy milk                          3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups 1” tapioca bread cubes                                            1/3 cup plus 2 tbl plain soy yogurt

Spray a 9” cake pan with cooking spray (Mazola Pure No-Stick cooking spray is gluten-free) and lay pear slices in the bottom. Set aside. Combine sugar, water and salt and heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and when the syrup is light brown, stir in 2 Tbl soy yogurt and allow to cook for 1 minute. Pour over pears and set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. In small bowl, combine eggs, soymilk, remaining yogurt and honey, whisking until combined then gently toss in bread cubes. Pour mixture over pears. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and with the foil on bake for about 55 minutes taking the foil off for the last 10 or so. Dish is done when it puffs and is golden brown, let cool for a few minutes then turn pan over in one swift motion onto a plate. Serve warm allowing the caramel sauce to drizzle down the sides. We like to top each slice with a couple red raspberries and a light sprinkling of powdered sugar just to make it extra pretty before serving at our Melbourne Beach Inn.

Extra tip: One of our favorite guest couples, Thomas and Julie, are gluten free, lactose free Vegans! For this recipe we use egg replacer instead of the real eggs and it still turns out great.  Our favorite is Ener-G Egg Replacer. It is gluten free!

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What’s your favorite book?

After breakfast this morning I was chatting with Michael and Sharon, a really nice couple from New York who are visiting Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast for the first time and staying in the Windward Suite. Having recently bought a new house, they were excited to tour the grounds and other guest rooms, talk about the design of our Melbourne Beach B&B and get inspiration for their new project. Cocoa Beach Bed & Breakfast

Our first stop after the dining room, is the garden courtyard just outside. The ground under our feet is covered in old Chicago bricks and red petals from the giant bougainvillea that looks over the garden. In the corner is the rocky old fountain made of coquina from the beach across the street and the remains of a stone overseer’s bench with woman’s face and winged body. But instead of a wooden seat, a cabbage palm grows, covered with the spiky arms and huge white flowers of a Night Blooming Cereus.

Cocoa Beach B&BAbove the garden is the New Orleans-like balcony of Dianne’s Room with its intricate scrollwork panels of vines and passionflowers, a deeply southern and meaningful image that has been used for centuries in European art and architecture.

As I look at the viney ironwork and discuss the courtyard with Michael and Sharon, I can’t help but think of the book A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. In the early years, before the house became the Melbourne Beach Bed and Breakfast guests know today, the courtyard’s big bougainvillea and purple allamanda had twisted and grown together untamed for more than forty years so that you could not tell one from the next. Cocoa Beach Bed and BreakfastThey grew over the fence and around the porch rails and through the gaps in the house’s siding. As we took apart the bead board ceilings to update the old cloth wiring, inside we found vines and tendrils winding through the walls all the way to the second floor as though the house and plants were all one big organic structure growing up together from the ground. This, combined with all that we were learning about the Brown family and others who had lived in the house on Ocean Avenue throughout the years, made it seem as though the lines between inside and outside were blurring like Hughes’ dreamy depiction of 19th century British colonial island life: plantation, barefoot children, tabby cats,  jungle palms, southern sun and sea whipped and shaken and spun together into a beautiful wild adventure.

Cocoa Beach Bed and Breakfast“As they followed the lane toward the sea they came to a place where, yesterday, a fair sized spring had bubbled up by the roadside. Now it was dry. But even as they passed a kind of gout of water gushed forth: and then it was dry again, although gurgling inwardly to itself. But the cavalcade were hot, far too hot to speak to one another they sat their ponies as loosely as possible, longing for the sea.”

In addition to the historic photos of the Brown family that guests find hanging on the walls here at our Bed and Breakfast in Melbourne Beach, I’ve often thought of framing passages like the one above from A High Wind in Jamaica. But in the end I wasn’t sure if people would understand and find them beautiful or maybe just think we were a little strange.

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